Monday, July 18, 2016

Day 18: Just Joy

Eight years ago today, we were wrapping up an amazing vacation in Florida.

Sunshine and the sea.  Family photos on the beach.  The perfect ending to a week we'd always remember.  When I look back on those smiling faces, I think about how much has changed since then.

While posing for those photos, none of us had any idea that would be our last vacation with Austin.  Never would I have imagined that his first trip to Pensacola would be the only one he'd ever take.

None of us really ever knows when our last moment with someone we love will be.  And in this broken world we live in, it seems the unimaginable becomes reality day after day.

Time is precious.  Life is short and can change in an instant.  This we know.

And that can be heavy to carry around.

So can seeing past photos of someone you no longer have in the present. When those memories hit your phone first thing in the morning, one never really knows where it will take them.  There was a time that seeing Austin's face would've flooded me with more emotions than I could handle.  Perhaps it would have sent me to the floor in tears, cancelled the plans I had for the day, or set a mood across the house I could not shake.

Even now, there's a piece of my heart that twinges.  More of it is filled with love of the moment and of seeing his smile, but I think no matter how much time passes a part of you will always hurt and grieve for what was lost.

But I'm grateful that most days joy fills more of me than sorrow.

Happiness depends on circumstances, joy depends on God.

I'm a little over the halfway point in this 31 day challenge.  This afternoon I paused, wondering what exactly to write about.  It was just a very ordinary day.  There were glimmers of good news, smiles shared, a spontaneous family moment, but for the most part it was just a day.  And while it was good, and joy was present, it doesn't give much to write about it.  Even for a girl where words come easy.

Yet, as I ponder about that, I realize how very precious it is that I'm in this place.  Where joy can just be.  The more you chase after joy, the more it settles within you.  God puts it there, I have no doubt.  And I'm content that nothing extraordinary can happen but joy can still be present.  Especially when I was once at a place where I felt joy would never exist again.

There have been a few people on my heart today that I can see joy isn't present.  For a girl who is all about sharing joy, it tugs at me and makes me wish I could just grab up some of mine and give it to them.  While happiness is contagious, joy is something internal.  It has to be wanted to grow.  Maybe for some the clouds are so dark they can't see the light that comes with seeking joy.  But that is my prayer.

If that is where you are, please know that I have walked on that same scary, dark path.  In the place where joy is void.  Where even breathing takes effort.  Where the pain of grief is physical.  Where the weight of no joy feels crushing.

Where even reading about someone finding joy made me angry.  Impossible...

Or so it seemed.  However, here I am, the one writing about it.  On a path where joy is ever-present. Where breathing is a privilege.  Where pain is temporary.  Where worries are lifted.  Where anger is replaced with laughter.

And if I made it through to the other side, you can too.  Just seek it.  Will it.  Pray it back into your life.  Joy will return.

When it does a simple, nothins special, regular Monday will feel pretty glorious just because joy was there.


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